Yesterday afternoon was full of tension as the top 10 men competed for the 5 spots on the USA Team. I have been at many USA Team Trials, and I can say that the eddy was more intense than I remember in the past. Jason Craig was in the first heat to go and threw down an 1,100 point ride in 45 seconds to win that heat. What that meant is that to guarantee a spot on the team you had to beat that 1,100 point ride, or you were leaving it up to the others in heat two to decide your fate. I won prelims so got to go last. I watched Clay go first and nail his ride, not flushing or missing a move. Then Stephen had a sick ride as well which went to the buzzer with an Orbit and Phonix Monkey at the buzzer. Wow… Then Dustin Urban went and killed it, throwing one move after the next, not flushing on anything, and looking smooth and intense at the same time. Bryan Kirk was next, but I was busy getting ready to go and missed 1/2 of his ride but the theme was clear. Go big or don’t go to Germany. I was quite nervous, something that hits me harder when I have something to lose, instead of something to gain attitude. I never try to feel that way on purpose. My legs were locked up and I was fighting my self when in the hole. I have to let loose and throw moves like I have nothing to lose in order to pull off the hardest combos. I botched my blunt/mcNasty combo and had to go back for it. My Wave Monkey went fine, but my backblunt/phonix combo didn’t go and then I couldn’t get my phonix before the buzzer. Wow, i am not on the team and only have one ride to go, was my realization. I have been on the team since 1993 for Freestyle and 1989 for slalom before that. Not making the team would be quite a big adjustment in my life.
After 1st rides- Jason Craig was still leading, with Stephen Wright in second, Dustin Urban in 3rd, then Clay Wright, and then Bryan Kirk, and then me, and then Jud Keiser.
On second rides Dustin improved coming close to 1,000 points. I don’t know any of this, exactly, as you don’t know the scores during semi-finals. All I knew was that my second ride had to be an EJ ride. I waited my turn and got the thumbs up. Kristine and Emily were on the shore and cheering me on, and Jason Craig was sitting next to them cheering for me as well. I had to do a few flatwater cartwheels to free myself up and remember what my body is supposed to feel like.
My opening moves (air screw/donkey flip and back pan am) went well and then the crux of my routine- Blunt/mcnasty combo- I pulled it straight over the top and didn’t hesitate, and then the Wavemonkey, I had to do a double set up to get it staged up wasting 3 seconds, but it was worth it for the move and I nailed that, now I was two major moves away from the team and my next one was another hard one, the backblunt/phonix monkey combo… got it! Now I am feeling the endzone in clear sight but my next move, the back loop is a flushy move that only three people stuck in the competition so far, but it went over the top, stalled out, but came down straight! Mcnasty right next right before the buzzer and then a quick front loop (my only front loop all week) and when I looked up I could see the crowd cheering, meaning that my ride was over. (I can’t hear the buzzer at the end of the ride). I am still in the hole and nailed my ride, except for not linking the backloop to the McNasty right, costing me a final move. I don’t know my score, exactly, but I knew I just made the USA Team, and it now makes 23 years in a row of being able to represent the USA.
The men’s kayak results are:
1. Eric Jackson- 1200
2. Jason Craig- 1185
3. Stephen Wright- 1090
4. Dustin Urban- 955
5. Clay Wright- 870
6. Bryan Kirk- 750
7. Jud Keiser- 500
8. Craig Kleckner- 490
9. Shawn Byron- 380
10. Michael Patterson- 315
Jason Craig has a bye as the junior world champion, and competed in the men’s class as a challenge to himself and proved that he is force to be recognized in either class! What an incredible competitor and paddler! He declined his men’s spot and decided to paddle as a junior, against Dane and the rest of the world in the next world championships, since it is his last chance to do so. That was good news for Bryan Kirk, who will now get to go to the next worlds in his place, moving up from sixth place to 5th.
Meanwhile- the ride of the day was Dane Jackson- 1250, beating my score by 50 points! Great job Dane!!! We’ll be fielding a strong, super strong junior class in 2011!
today the Women, Junior Women, Junior Men, and C1 teams will be decided!
Oh yea, yesterday the OC1 class was decided- Dane and Eli!!! Jeremy Lauks gets a bye!